'I Returned With the Unshakeable Feeling That I'm Done With Cameras'

Craig Mod, writing for The New Yorker:

In the same way that the transition from film to digital is now taken for granted, the shift from cameras to networked devices with lenses should be obvious. While we’ve long obsessed over the size of the film and image sensors, today we mainly view photos on networked screens—often tiny ones, regardless of how the image was captured—and networked photography provides access to forms of data that go beyond pixels. This information, like location, weather, or even radiation levels, can transform an otherwise innocuous photo of an empty field near Fukushima into an entirely different object. If you begin considering emerging self-metrics that measure, for example, your routes through cities, fitness level, social status, and state of mind (think Foursquare, Nike+, Facebook, and Twitter), you realize that there is a compelling universe of information waiting to be pinned to the back of each image. Once you start thinking of a photograph in those holistic terms, the data quality of stand-alone cameras, no matter how vast their bounty of pixels, seems strangely impoverished. They no longer capture the whole picture.

In the not-so-distant past, I’ve toyed with the idea of buying a “real”, standalone camera because more pixels and fancy photography. But I’ve held off, mainly because I don’t really need a fancy DSLR or similar rig. For my purposes — Instagram and, new for 2014, my Photo 365 project — the camera on my always-in-my-pocket iPhone 5S is more than adequate. The 5S’s camera is amazingly great for a smartphone, and coupled with some fine iOS photo-editing apps, that’s all I truly need for now. Will I get a more capable camera in the future? Perhaps, but as Apple continues to improve the optics on the iPhone (and they will), its camera may someday become so good that people will start eschewing their big rigs for a just as good — and, as Mod is smart to point out — connected pocket DSLR.

(via Ben Brooks)